People who have fled their country because they fear persecution, and who are either in the United States or at the border, may seek asylum in the United States. Asylum is a protection granted to those individuals who meet the international definition of a refugee included in the United Nations 1951 Convention and 1967 Protocols who the United States is a signatory. The Convention and Protocols protect asylum seekers through what is known as the doctrine of non-refoulment, which means that the United States cannot force someone to return to a place where his or her life would be threatened.
Over the last 20 years, U.S. courts have been challenged to interpret and process asylum law. Today the government officially recognizes domestic violence as a form of persecution. Furthermore, lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) individuals have also challenged asylum adjudicators to broaden their understanding of personal characteristics such as sexual orientation and gender identity. Recently, a significant number of children and their families fleeing violence by criminal by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and the immigration courts to recognize their claims for asylum.
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